In this sec­ond part of our video mas­ter­class spe­cial with Thomas Leeb, the Aus­trian acous­tic vir­tu­oso shows Stu­art Ryan his fin­ger­pick­ing ap­proach.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

This month, Thomas in­tro­duces some of his more con­ven­tional acous­tic tech­niques.


IN LAST IS­SUE’S Star Video les­son, acous­tic wizard Thomas Leeb showed us how he in­cor­po­rates mod­ern tech­niques into his play­ing – tap­ping, on- body per­cus­sion and ad­vanced use of har­mon­ics are just some of the facets of his style that make his play­ing unique. In this sec­ond part of the video les­son, Thomas takes us to the op­po­site end of the spec­trum with a tra­di­tional piece in DADGAD tun­ing, where he demon­strates his mas­tery of con­ven­tional fin­ger­pick­ing ap­proaches.

How­ever, in keep­ing with his mod­ern acous­tic style, there are still plenty of in­her­ent chal­lenges here. Leeb is well known for his sense of groove and swing, and those el­e­ments per­me­ate this per­for­mance – the piece has a strong swing feel through­out, and it’s es­sen­tial to cap­ture this in or­der to re­tain the spirit of the per­for­mance. In ad­di­tion, you’ll also no­tice the use of more mod­ern ap­proaches with such tech­niques as the ham­mer- on from nowhere. The idea here is to ham­mer on to a note with­out pick­ing the string first – this re­quires a great deal of strength and ac­cu­racy on the fret­ting hand and is a tech­nique well worth per­fect­ing in isolation, be­fore at­tempt­ing it in a piece like this one.

There are more chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with this style: when play­ing tra­di­tional pieces, it’s com­mon to ‘ or­na­ment’ or em­bel­lish the melody. In prac­tice, this means very briefly adding notes that aren’t part of the melody – what we re­fer to as ‘ grace notes.’ You’ll see these from the first bar on­wards, and they are very dif­fi­cult to ex­e­cute, as there’s a fine

Leeb is well known for his sense of groove and swing, and those el­e­ments are es­sen­tial to this per­for­mance – the piece has a strong swing feel through­out.

bal­ance be­tween the note sound­ing briefly as an em­bel­lish­ment, and sound­ing for too long and be­com­ing a fea­ture of the piece. Learn­ing how to deal with grace notes is an ex­cel­lent dis­ci­pline for both fret­ting and pick­ing hands, and is an es­sen­tial tech­nique to mas­ter if you’re learn­ing pieces in this style.

An­other el­e­ment to be aware of is the self- ac­com­pa­ni­ment pro­vided by the bass notes through­out the piece; typ­i­cally, these are the open sixth and fifth strings, though Thomas does use the fourth string for this pur­pose as well. These bass notes are usu­ally played on beat one, but there are a few places where Thomas can trip you up. Try bar 16, for ex­am­ple, where he plays the low ‘ D’ bass note on both beat one and the ‘ and’ of beat one – you’ll need a pre­cise pick­ing- hand thumb here!

These two lessons have only pro­vided a snapshot of Thomas’s style, but hope­fully, you’ll have seen that he is a well- rounded player who’s not only leading the mod­ern fin­ger­style move­ment, but also keep­ing the tra­di­tional flag fly­ing as well.

Thomas Leeb: with his Low­den sig­na­ture model

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